The weeks leading up to the scheduled speech by Richard Spencer have been stressful for the University of Florida, school president W. Kent Fuchs said in an interview Wednesday morning.
Spencer, a white nationalist who leads the National Policy Institute, was not invited by the university or its students, and UF leaders have rejected his message as hateful. But — after hearing from a lawyer representing Spencer and his supporters — university officials reluctantly acknowledged Spencer’s First Amendment right to speak at a campus venue they rent out.
Beginning Wednesday, a large number of police officers will be on the Gainesville campus. More than 500 law enforcement officers are expected there Thursday, Fuchs said.
“It just has a different feel when you have that many on campus,” Fuchs said.
Fuchs said the final tab for the school to provide extra security and logistics for Spencer’s visit will probably top $600,000.
It is unfair, he said, that large public research universities are expected to pick up the cost for these type of events. “At some point, the courts will have to weigh in,” he said. “We can’t be the only ones sharing this burden.”
The University of California at Berkeley has spent in excess of $2.5 million on security for divisive speakers this year, starting in February with protests that turned violent when far-left extremists inflicted so much damage so quickly that university police canceled a speech by writer Milo Yiannopoulos before it even started.
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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Joe Heim and Abigail Hauslohner